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Rainbow May Spell Dark Skies for the Tax Abatement

As eldondre pointed out at Philadelphia Speaks, PlanPhilly's graph above breaks down, in very attractive and gay-friendly fashion, how it is that "nearly a third of the total value of property in the city of Philadelphia is exempt from property taxes."

Patrick Kerkstra writes:

There are now 41,074 parcels in the city that are fully or partially exempt from property taxes.... How much do those tax-exempt properties cost the city and School District in potential revenue? A whopping $528 million in 2012 alone. One of the exemptions Kerkstra sees as most problematic ("a short-term blow to the property tax base," he writes) is the property seller's best friend, the Philadelphia tax abatement program:

Twelve years ago, abatements accounted for only a small sliver of the total property value in Philadelphia - about $110 million. Today, tax-abated property is worth $1.19 billion, and the annual forfeited property taxes on those parcels tops $112 million. ... Philadelphia has the nation's most generous property tax abatement program, the weakest property tax collection system, and an inventory of tax-exempt property that is second nationally only to Washington D.C., where the federal government owns vast tracts of exempted land.

Council prez Darrell Clarke and at-large Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. are both in favor of reducing the tax abatement. Nutter seems to be open to discussion on the subject, according to an email his spokesman sent Kerkstra: "While it's clear that abatements have spurred economic development for more than a decade, adjustments to our current law may be considered when the real estate market gains strength."

Realtors, tout those tax abatements while you can.

· Fiscal reform in Philadelphia faces a taxing problem [PlanPhilly]